Olivia Goldsmith (aka Justine Rendal)


Olivia Goldsmith, the novelist whose savagely funny debut book, “The First Wives Club,” became a revenge fantasy for wives tossed aside in favor of younger women, died of plastic surgery complications Thursday, Jan. 15, in New York. She was 54.

Goldsmith was a successful management consultant before she took up writing. “First Wives Club,” which came out in 1992, spun a tale of three women who band together to seek revenge after their wealthy husbands leave them for younger partners.

The book sold millions of copies and became a No. 1 film in 1996 starring Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton and Bette Midler. Hawn’s character is a plastic surgery fan who in one scene pleads with her doctor for yet another procedure.

Among Goldsmith’s other novels are “The Bestseller,” “Flavor of the Month,” “Young Wives” and “Switcheroo.” A new novel, “Dumping Billy,” is scheduled for a spring release. She had just finished editing “Casting On,” said her agent, Nicholas Ellison.

Ellison said Goldsmith had been in a coma since she suffered a heart attack Jan. 7 as she went under anesthesia for a procedure to remove loose skin from her chin.

While in the business world, Goldsmith became one of the first women to become a partner at consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. In interviews, Goldsmith acknowledged having undergone a painful divorce, but Ellison said she did not write “First Wives Club” based on her own experience.

Goldsmith was born Randy Goldfield in New York. She changed her legal name to Justine Rendal and wrote under the pen name of Olivia Goldsmith.

She is survived by her mother and two sisters.

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